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Every Child Matters faces biggest test

The Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) pledged, in its annual report last week, to assess and build on the progress of Every Child Matters (ECM) for the next five years, as a policy priority for the coming 12 months. It is a good priority to hold, particularly given the uncertainty ahead.

Gove gives joint working a rude jolt

Michael Gove's revelation to CYP Now that a Conservative government will remove obligations on local authorities to have children's trusts in place will come as a thunderbolt for children's services, particularly in their efforts to safeguard children and enable them to thrive.

Outstanding challenge for Ofsted

Ofsted-bashing has been on the rise for several months. Cries of exasperation over the way the children's services inspectorate goes about its business have come in fits and starts from all quarters.

Outreach work is key to Sure Start

It is becoming pretty clear that Sure Start will be a key election issue. For months, Labour has claimed that a Conservative government would decimate the service it has created, an accusation consistently denied by the Tories.

Cannabis row leaves us all in a blur

Back at the end of October, Professor David Nutt, chair of the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), was sacked after criticising policy on cannabis classification.

Policy into practice - Body image

THE ISSUE: Teenagers these days face great pressure to look "sexy" and have the right image. This is driven partly by a celebrity culture in which airbrushing and plastic surgery have become increasingly the norm.

It's time to respect children's rights

You wait ages for one 20th anniversary, then three come along at once. We've just marked the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 1989 Children Act. And this week it is 20 years since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child came into existence.

Policy advisers should not be silenced

Home Secretary Alan Johnson's dismissal of David Nutt, chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, is by no means the first time ministers have hidden behind the spurious distinction between advice and policy.

Policy into practice: E. coli

The issue: The recent outbreak of E. coli at a farm in Surrey has raised attention once again around the importance of safety and hygiene for children and young people.

Cut traffic speed to make cycling safer

When I was about 10 a car came around the corner of a quiet country lane and knocked me flying off my bicycle. Fortunately, I went into the hedge and the bike went into the middle of the road.

Cuts could enhance joint working

The party conference season is over and national politics is destined for a surreal few months in the run-up to the general election. Expect plenty more short-term children's policy announcements - some even eye- catching - as the main parties try to outmanoeuvre each other to strike a popular chord. Politics in Westminster will become increasingly sensationalised and polarised.